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Following Six-Year High in Academic Integrity Cases, Khurana Discusses Honor Council’s Goals

Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana addressed the rise in academic integrity cases seen by the Honor Council last year in a Monday interview.
Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana addressed the rise in academic integrity cases seen by the Honor Council last year in a Monday interview. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Vivi E. Lu and Leah J. Teichholtz, Crimson Staff Writers

Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana discussed the Honor Council’s goals in a Monday interview following the release of new data indicating an uptick in academic integrity cases referred to the body during the 2020-2021 school year.

Twenty-seven students were forced to withdraw from the College due to Honor Code violations over the 2020-2021 year, according to statistics released this month, marking a six-year high. The Honor Council — which is chaired by Khurana and consists of students, faculty, and administrators — heard 138 academic dishonesty cases over that period.

While Khurana declined to comment on specific disciplinary cases, he said the Council’s goals are rooted in helping students grow academically.

“What I want to assure our students is our philosophy is anchored in education and supporting our students through this educational journey and finding ways to help them live their values,” Khurana said.

Khurana said the Honor Council aims to refer disciplinary cases back to faculty for local interventions when possible. Determined at the discretion of the course instructor, these sanctions may include mandatory tutoring, warnings, or grade penalties.

Six students received local sanctions over the 2020-2021 year, marking a six-year low.

“Each year, we have an opportunity to look at the underlying trends to see where there are areas of challenge,” Khurana said. “We work with faculty to see how we can address any of those issues, as well as how we can support students to help them to meet any academic challenges they might be facing.”

As reading period and final exams begin in December, Khurana called on students to care for themselves.

“Obviously, we want you to focus on your learning, but your grades don’t define you,” he said.

Khurana also discussed the 138th iteration of the Harvard-Yale Game, which took place Saturday at Harvard Stadium for the first time since 2016.

“I love just seeing our students, our alumni, our fans come together after a long absence from the stadium to have an opportunity to celebrate and support our community — and support our student-athletes,” Khurana said.

Prior to The Game, some students reported frustration and confusion about the College’s restrictions on tailgating and dorm parties.

Khurana said the College aims to “create an environment of fun and inclusion and safety.”

“We take student input very seriously, and at the same time, we’d want to make sure we have an event that starts with joy and ends with joy,” he said.

Though Yale won The Game 19-14, Khurana said he appreciated the continuation of a long-held tradition.

“Whatever the score is, what everybody knows is that what we’re carrying on is an important tradition,” Khurana said. “A tradition in which members of their community come here and live with us and stay overnight with us, and that that’s reciprocated next year — and that sense of stewarding, that tradition, that treating each other with respect.”

“Win or lose, it’s about having a great event and celebrating the fans,” he added.

The Crimson interviews Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana once per month during the academic year. Click here to submit a question for consideration in our next interview.

—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at vivi.lu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @vivielu_.

—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz can be reached at leah.teichholtz@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahTeichholtz.

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